Sequestration Consumes Intellectual Efforts, Commander Says
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 11, 2013 One of the dangers of sequestration is the amount of attention spent on managing budgets and finances rather than airmen focusing on training and their jobs, the commander of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command said here today.
Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva met with reporters of the Defense Writers Group to discuss the impacts of sequestration on his command.
“Because of the way the sequester was built in law, it consumes a disproportionate share of our time,” he explained. “Unless something changes -- if there’s no budget agreement in [fiscal 2014] and beyond -- it consumes a whole lot more of our time than budgets would normally.”
Selva explained the process of managing sequestration for AMC is handled by the same people who build the command’s budget yearly.
“So they’re forced into the room to reprioritize almost on a weekly basis the expenditures that the command is going to have to live with through the balance of the year just to the close of this fiscal year -- to attempt to protect the things that are most important to us,” the general said.
Selva said a “pretty significant” percentage of their efforts are aimed at either mitigating the impact of lost revenue as a result of sequestration or trying to “maneuver inside the fairly narrow lanes” that are laid out in law for how to manage the money Air Mobility Command has.
“The sequester has consumed intellectual effort across the enterprise, from the youngest airman on the flightline to my desk,” he said.
Selva said his concern is that focusing on how to do things inside the sequester, instead of doing them right, will lead to airmen paying less attention to their jobs and their missions.
“[This] has some insidious consequences in terms of focus on training,” he said. “So I spend a fair amount of my time trying to keep the people that are responsible for training our airmen to do some of the most complicated tasks they do, as focused on that responsibility as they are on trying to manage the finances.”
Selva noted there has been a noticeable impact on how AMC conducts its operations.
“We’ve had a very marked impact on our capacity to manage inside our air-refueling accounts, so if you went to one of our bases today and talked to a tanker crew, you’d find out they’re flying the airplane about once every 30 days,” he said.
“Unless there’s an operational requirement for them to fly, they’re maintaining what we call basic aircraft currencies,” Selva said. “So they’re down to the minimum level that we can safely assert that they can fly the airplane and do the mission they have to do.”
The general said the spending cuts have caused about a “40-percent take” of the flying hours for the balance of the fiscal year, which runs through September, and that flight time is “down to reasonably low numbers.”
Selva said he believes concern with the effects of sequestration on the organization may distract airmen, and that this is “the danger in this process.”
“We misappropriate our attention and we take it off the most important things -- which is making sure our airmen are trained to do the tasks we tell them to do, at the least amount of risk in whatever space they’re in,” he said. “We owe it to them to make sure they’re trained and focused on that task. This diverts a great deal of our attention away from that training.”
This is where his priority lies, the general added, and where it will stay.
Air Mobility Command provides worldwide cargo and passenger delivery, air refueling and aeromedical evacuation. The command also transports humanitarian supplies to hurricane, flood and earthquake victims both in the United States and around the world.